Obesity hogging the headlines again: what to do? - The Packer

Obesity hogging the headlines again: what to do?

05/08/2012 08:45:00 AM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstObesity is again hogging the headlines of the consumer press today, with coverage of presentations at the "Weight of the Nation" conference in D.C. getting big play on the Drudge Report: "New warning: 42% obese?" and "Panel: more government regulation is the answer"

A look at the Golden Corral buffet line would confirm the gist: By 2030, the CDC says 42% of American adults will be obese, compared to 34% today; 11% will be severely obese, compared to 6% today.

Find an IOM report on the response to obesity here,  study of childhood obesity at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition here, and research on "Reaching the Healthy People Goals for Reducing Childhood Obesity" in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine here.

In that vein, yesterday I received a review copy of the book "The Weight of the Nation: to win we have to lose." I look forward to plowing through it in the next couple of weeks. Here are some bullet points from a press release accompanying the book:

  • The average adult only needs to engage in 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week in order to maintain a healthy weight
  • In the last 50 years, portions have gotten 30% bigger. In 1950 our dinner plates were 10 inches in diameter, now they average 12 inches.
  • Stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and caffeine deplete our serotonin "happy neurotransmitters." Humans compensate by eating sugary foods because the insulin we release when we eat sweets also travels to the brain and stimulates the release of serotonin.

TK: Again, the fresh produce industry is on the right side of this issue, as witnessed by the pledge by HBO - producer of the four part series "The Weight of the Nation"  - to donate 100 salad bars to U.S. schools. Whether it is by revamping farm policy, slapping on a junk food tax or restricting food stamp benefits to healthy foods, Americans are open to the message of "personal responsibility" AND government intervention to finally unlock a solution to the obesity epidemic.

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